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Irv Weinstein, longtime TV anchor, dead at 87

Buffalo Broadcasting Association
Irv Weinstein on Channel 7

Western New York is remembering Irv Weinstein, the iconic newsman who anchored Channel 7 newscasts for more than 30 years. He died Tuesday afternoon at age 87, according to WKBW-TV.

WBFO's Mike Desmond remembers Irv Weinstein

WKBW reported that Weinstein died in southern California, where he had retired. He had been diagnosed with  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurological condition also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

In 1998, Weinstein was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame notes say that in 1958 he became news director at WKBW Radio and developed the concept of "rock and roll radio news" – a fast-paced delivery that emphasized crime news.

Credit WBBZ-TV
(left to right) Rick Azar, Irv Weinstein, Tom Jolls and Phil Arno meet for the "Giants of Buffalo" event in March 2014.

In 1964, he took over as news director and lead anchor at Channel 7's “Eyewitness News.” Along with Tom Jolls and Rick Azar, Weinstein made up the longest-running anchor team in the history of television (24 years – beginning in 1965), the association said.

"He was the very best talented individual that I've ever met," said Jolls to WBFO. "I learned so much from him by just working with him every day. For over 40 years we were together and the bond we developed was something unique and, I'm afraid, will probably never ever happen again between any working associates."

Steve Reszka, president of the Buffalo Broadcasters Association, said Weinstein leaves an impressive legacy.

"I believe there's no news anchor in America who is so iconic in his or her market than Irv Weinstein was to Buffalo," said Reszka.

Former broadcast journalist Susan Banks, who shared the anchor desk with Weinstein for years at WKBW-TV, learned about Weinstein's death from WBFO.

"The overriding memory I have of him, the greatest memory I have, is how much he absolutely loved people," Banks recalled. "He loved people. He loved meeting people. He loved talking to them. He had a better memory for people's names than anybody I have ever known. He could remember not just their names, their families where they came from, what they had for dinner six years ago - at Chef's usually - of course. He just had a joy of living that was just unbounded."

Among Weinstein’s longtime competitors was Rich Newberg, who retired in late 2015 as senior correspondent for WIVB-TV. Newberg said Weinstein was tough to top, given his appeal to wide audiences with a delivery that included alliteration such as “pistol packing punks.”

He also called Weinstein a “genius” for one of his other news strategies.

Credit Michael Mroziak / WBFO News
Rich Newberg at work.

“He did it in a very personal way by sending out crews to shoot what was called the News Reel,” Newberg recalled. “That would be 10, 15, 20 seconds of your club meeting or a fender-bender that you might have been involved in on the road. But he knew that if he could get a camera to any event or breaking news, they would be watching. Their families would be watching. Their friends would be watching.”

Weinstein retired at the end of 1998. Late Wednesday, Chef's Restaurant announced it would be donating a portion of the proceeds from its "Irv Special" dish to the ALS Foundation. The annual Variety Telethon, for which Weinstein spent countless hours on-air raising money for Women & Children's Hospital in Buffalo, will be including special tributes during its March 4, 2018 telecast.

Funeral services are expected to be held on Thursday, WKBW reported. Weinstein is survived by his wife Elaine and his three children, Marc, Beth and Rachel.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
Michael Oreskes is NPR's Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director. He leads an award-winning team of journalists and seasoned newsroom executives who are committed to excellence, innovation and the highest quality reporting and multi-platform storytelling.
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